Tributes for former jockey and trainer Terry Biddlecombe who has died aged 72
‘He was a great man and had a great life. If he was still here he’d have told you that himself’
Terry Biddlecombe pictured at Ascot in January 2012. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Former jockey Jim Culloty, who partnered Best Mate to three triumphs in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, led the tributes to Terry Biddlecombe, who died on Sunday at the age of 72.
The ‘odd couple’, as they were affectionately known, enjoyed fantastic success with the likes of Edredon Bleu, Lord Noelie and Impek, but will forever be remembered for their association with the legendary Best Mate, who claimed the Gold Cup between 2002-04.
Culloty was champion amateur in his first season with Knight and Biddlecombe and spent 10 years as their stable jockey.
Now a successful trainer in Ireland, he said: “I would rather celebrate his life than mourn his death.
“The pace at which Terry lived his life, unfortunately he was never going to go on forever.
“I met him about a month ago and we had dinner together. Physically he obviously wasn’t great, but mentally he was in great form, as usual.
“I knew him for 20-odd years and I could write a book about all the things that happened — he was apparently relatively quiet when I knew him.
“He was a great fellow and a great character. He was larger than life and lived it to the full.”
Tony McCoy also struck up a good relationship with Knight and Biddlecombe, partnering Best Mate to victory in the 2002 King George VI Chase at Kempton and Edredon Bleu to a thrilling triumph in the Queen Mother Champion Chase two years earlier.
The 18-times champion jockey told At The Races: “I spoke to Hen on Wednesday and I was going to go and see him on Thursday or Friday, but she said he had a bit of a chest infection and I should leave it for a few days.
“She rang me this morning and said he had sadly passed away very peacefully, which I suppose is a good thing, if there is a good thing.
“He was a great man and had a great life. If he was still here he’d have told you that himself.
“He came to my party for my 4,000th winner and Henrietta said that was the last time he was out.
“I was lucky I had a lot of success with himself and Hen — a Champion Chase on Edredon Bleu and a King George on Best Mate.